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Skype Adds Qik to Go Mobile Ahead of IPO

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LAS VEGAS—Skype has acquired video streaming service Qik, its first acquisition. Although CEO Tony Bates declined to discuss financial terms at a CES press conference Thursday, reports suggest the deal, which was concluded this morning, was for $100 million.

Qik allows users to host two-way live video calls on a range of smartphones, as well as record and share video via e-mail, SMS, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and a number of other platforms.

"Mobile is clearly the next frontier in terms of communication," said Bates. "Why is video on mobile so important? We are all on the go all of the time and the ability to communicate and capture in HD is compelling. HD video is a major focus for which is why this morning we entered into an agreement to acquire Qik."

Although Bates declined to discuss integration plans for Qik into Skype, he said it would enable Skype to add in premium services. "Video carriage is an area which is poised to be monetised," he said.

Qik's userbase is around 5 million thanks in part to partnerships with telecom providers like T-Mobile.

A press release stated that both companies have a common purpose of enriching communications and sharing with video, across any device. "The acquisition of Qik helps accelerate Skype's leadership in video by adding recording, sharing and storing capabilities to Skype's product portfolio," it said.

Bates also explained that Skype's strategy was to "make truely universal products." He claimed the company was growing four times faster than other voice call providers and that Skype calls totalled 520 million minutes a day, 40 percent of which was video based.

"We've crossed the tipping point in the way people want to communicate," he said. To underscore this notion he noted that the iPhone two-way Skype app that launched on New Year's Eve was downloaded 4 million times in the first 24 hours and delivered 1 million video calls in that time.

Augmenting Skype availability on Samsung and Panasonic connected TVs, video calling is now available on Vizio internet TVs and the Sony Bravia line. Skype is also being supported by Panasonic's new Blu-ray disc players.

To extend Skype further into the mobile and connected TV sectors, the company is releasing an API for developers called SkypeKit which is about to go into Beta.

It is also pushing group video calls for business and consumers. For $8.99 a month up to ten-way group video calling will be enabled on desktop computers.

"Our aim is to connect everyone on the planet in an intimate and everyday experience," said Bates. "Our focus is on becoming multi-platform on mobile, desktop and the living room."

Skype filed for an IPO mid-2010 with reports valuing the company up to $1 illion. Bates took no questions about the IPO, expected this year, or the company's finances.

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